As they say, life’s full of little surprises; some good, some bad. It’s a case of the former with the Mazda2 after an upgrade that sees the small hatchback or sedan lead small cars in standard safety.
The maker has adopted the theory that size doesn’t matter, believing in, ‘providing the best possible driving experience in pursuit of the highest quality and ideals’ for its sub-compact.
Mazda2 now has blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert as standard equipment on high-spec grades. These i-ActivSense safety technologies join Smart City Brake Support – Forward, which is now standard across the entire range and Smart City Brake Support – Reverse which is now standard from the Maxx variant up.
Available in four hatchback versions – Neo, Maxx, Genki and GT – and three sedans – Neo, Maxx and GT- the new Mazda2 follows on from the Mazda3 and 6 with innovative G-Vectoring Control designed to produce a smoother, more comfortable ride. Also included in this update are a range of interior and exterior upgrades.
There has been no change to prices over the previous models, with the entry-level Neo manual hatch and sedan at $14,990 (auto $2000+) and the GT equivalents topping out the range at $21,680 and $23,680, respectively. On test was a Mazda2 GT six-speed automatic hatch.
In keeping with modern automotive trends, the hatchback sports a stylish shark fin radio antenna, bright-plated foglight bezels and a gunmetal coloured grille, while the 16-inch alloy wheels are painted silver.
Turn signals are mounted on the front of the door mirrors and wrap around the outside edges, improving visibility for other road users. The mirrors automatically fold inwards when the key is used to lock the car, making it easy to see that the doors are locked by glancing at the mirror position.
Smart, sophisticated and pretty classy for a car of its price, that’s the Mazda2 GT passenger cabin. Seat trim is a mix of white leather and a cloth centre section with a new dot pattern and a thin red accent line, flanked either side by two fine rows of stitching running up the centre of the seatback. Black shoulder piece accents complete the picture.
The updated steering wheel design was first used for Mazda CX-9 and features a smaller centre pad, while three levels of switches on the horizontal spokes of the previous car’s wheel are now single level, matching natural finger movement.
Mazda’s MZD Connect, with its central-dash positioned screen and console control knob, makes for safe and easy access to functions. There’s internet connectivity and access to social networking services while driving.
In addition, it also offers hands-free phone operation, access to Twitter and other communication functions, as well as satellite navigation. The GT features a six-speaker Bose audio system.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The New Mazda2 is powered by a 1.5 litre petrol engine, with a high-spec for the GT, including i-stop, mated to a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The Skyactiv-Drive automatic transmission includes Drive Selection, which allows drivers to switch to Sport drive mode by means of a switch on the shift gate. The transmission is automatically set to start out in a low gear. It also increases the torque output when the accelerator pedal is pressed down further to deliver powerful acceleration.
Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert now join other i-Activsense safety technologies such as smart city brake support – forward and smart city brake support – reverse on the Mazda2 GT.
Information is reflected as a head-up display on a clear panel mounted on top of the meter hood, set to focus at 1.5 metres from the driver’s eye. Speed and speed limits, turn-by-turn sat nav directions and safety system information is also displayed.
As befitting the GT tag, the drive can be spiced up by means of the SkyActiv-Drive transmission, which enables the driver to move into Sport mode using the switch on the shift gate. This alters the engine characteristics, shift timing and shift speed to provide stronger acceleration at the touch of the pedal, particularly useful when merging with quick-moving motorway traffic.
G-Vectoring Control certainly works well on handling, keeping the small car firmly planted on the road, responding quickly and smoothly to the steering wheel.
It was no surprise, then, that on a spirited drive through the Gold Coast Hinterland the Mazda2 GT lived up to the ‘Grand Tourer’ suffix, swooping through fast bends and tracking through tight bends with equal handling efficiency.
The average fuel consumption on the run was just 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres, compared with 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres in the suburbs.
The Active Driving (head-up) Display, a personal favourite, has been upgraded from the previous monochrome to full colour and has increased brightness. Warnings are shown in red and amber making them readable at a glance.
Cabin storage space has been developed with particular reference to the typical compact car owner and is capped off by a hatchback boot capacity of 250 litres, enough space for a large suitcase or average-size baby stroller. The tailgate is light and easy to operate via a button on the inside lip.
Upgrades in safety and performance at no extra cost has the Mazda2 top-spec GT putting more pressure on other members of a congested car market. It’s hard to ignore.
AT A GLANCE
Mazda2 Neo hatch or sedan: $14,990 (manual), $16,990 (automatic)
Mazda2 Maxx hatch or sedan: $17,690 (manual), $19,690 (automatic)
Mazda2 Genki hatch or sedan: $20,690 (manual), $22,690 (automatic)
Mazda2 GT hatch or sedan: $21,680 (manual), $23,680 (automatic)
Soul Red Metallic paint costs an additional $300
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mazda dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Mazda2 GT 1.5-litre petrol 6sp automatic hatchback)
Capacity: 1.496 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 81 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 141 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: Euro V
DRIVELINE: Six-speed Skyactiv-Drive automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4060 mm
Wheelbase: 2570 mm
Width: 1695 mm
Height: 1495 mm
Turning Circle: 9.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1053 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 44 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres